Written by: JENNIFER WALKER
Some might say I have a seven year itch. At Year Seven, I’ve vanished like a thief in the night multiple times. There’s something about the accumulation of seven years worth of clothing, furniture, and decorations that makes me want to deny all worldly possessions and walk away like a better smelling ascetic. Untarnished, unfettered, unburdened.
Buying a house on St. John seems to go against this compulsion. But I was locked into a mortgage before when the buzzer went off. I still threw all my belongings on the curb and fled. It just meant money was very tight until I sold the house. Financial stability and future investment couldn’t sway my instinct to abscond.
Though this time, I’m still in the early days of my newest address and already things feel different. I first noticed it in my island garden. To be fair, garden is a euphemism for the tangled mess of old plantings and new weeds sprouting around my house. But it has so much potential. I’ve had numerous gardens before (the obligatory urban kinds with ornamental plants I hoped would bloom each spring and herbs and vegetables I shared with various rodents, as well as more rural/small town gardens with raised planting beds and ambitiously tiered produce), but none of them ever seemed to hold the promise of my garden now. Maybe its the perpetual growing season here in the Caribbean, the constant green outside my windows. Or maybe it’s the possibility of growing fruit trees, a wonder I never thought to accomplish.
For fruit trees take time – years, maybe decades. Yet when I look over my small piece of land on this small rock, I am not phased. I feel like I have plenty of time. Although there are numerous projects to complete to make my place more livable – like upgrading my two burner hotplate for an actual stove, or fixing the holes in my walls with something other than screen mesh and duct tape – I move at a snail’s pace. The rhythm of my hillside home is measured by the slow progression of sun across its roof or the continual dance of butterflies through its trees. Nothing here says make haste, things are changing, time is moving. It seems even nature runs on island time.
And then there is our new, completely unexpected puppy. We’re French bulldog people. They’ve moved with us, adjusting to each new adventure with their usual lying in bed stoicism. Now this energetic imp, some unknown island combination of bravado and comedy, bounds through the house attacking everyone with sharp-toothed love. Everyday I watch her grow and wonder what she’ll look like. I stop every island dog I see to compare and contrast their attributes. She’s a living part of things here and by being a part of our family, she makes us a part of them too.
Lastly there is the lamb. I rescued/abducted it one rainy night from a sheep-less ball field and after trying to return it to its owner, I ended up bottle feeding it for weeks. It eventually found its way back to its owner, but I’ll be back on bottle duty while the owner’s out of town soon. Now I have a garden to tend, an island puppy to raise, and a local lamb to mind. I’ve never been more connected to any other place.
So that’s the difference, it seems – island life. It’s like the mangrove tree, slowly walking its roots deeper into me. This time it might finally be enough to hold me in one place.
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Fellow wanderers – what finally helped you to feel settled on your rock?